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Where Dreams Came True

Filed under: Current Articles,Featured |     

By Delores Kuhlwein

Everyone calls World Equestrian Center – Ocala “Horse Disneyland.”  For Chad Evans and Reserve World Champion Sugaray, it truly became the place of dreams.

On Friday night at A Sudden Impulse, the Top 15 Horse/Rider combinations from the NSBA Junior and NSBA Senior Trail were invited back to a $40,000 NSBA Clean-Slate Challenge beginning at 6 PM, and the riders were given the patterns and could only walk the course at 5 PM.

When Chad Evans and Sugaray stepped onto the course 23rd in the working order, they wowed the audience with a breathtaking run, including two plus-earning spins that brought cheers from the crowd.

Then when the results were announced one-by-one, the final team and the champions were Sugaray with Chad Evans for Kathy Huspeni, winning $13,000 with a score of 248 – not only that, but the class unofficially marked Chad’s NSBA Quarter Million Dollar Rider status!

“Stephanie (Lynn) had put it on my radar that I was really close, and it probably made me a little extra nervous,” Chad says, when asked about his NSBA achievement.  “I thought I’d really like to get it done here, and I love this horse and the owners, so it was fun to make it happen for them.  He’s such a great horse – you could do the trail every single day with him, and he absolutely loves it.”

In fact, Chad explains that the more challenging the situation is, the more his buddy, Sugaray, shines, as he’s in his element. “I’ve had him since he was a three-year-old and he was a World and Reserve World Champion; he loves this kind of environment when it’s high pressure. He’s ornery and he has all sorts of quirks, which I think is what makes a great show horse.”

Kathy Huspeni with Sugaray after winning L1 Amateur Select Trail at the 2022 Nutrena AQHA West Level 1 Championship Show

Sugaray is extremely quiet before they show, and then he’s a little sassy when he’s done – he also seems to know what a good boy he was when he’s finished, as he’ll prance out of the arena, Chad says.  “I think it’s the adrenaline, and a lot of times I take him outside and let him play after he shows, and he’s like ‘woo-hoo!!’ He loves it.”

When Chad walked the pattern that evening, the pageantry that included WEC designs, plants, and more even gave him a little rush walking it.  “They set it so well, and it’s fun to have that sort of experience. The Senior Trail is always the biggest class at the horse show, so it’s so nice to have some serious money for everyone. It’s nice to see it filter into the events.”

His favorite part of the World Equestrian Center, he adds, isn’t just that it’s beautiful and fancy, however. “It’s so user-smart – they’ve really thought about horses’ safety and care, with great footing, all the walkways and stalls are cushy, the size of the stalls are 11 x 13 – horse care is so important here. You can tell it’s been designed not only by people who show horses, but also by people who care about horses. All those things that go together is why we make a 30-hour drive to show here. It’s fun to be here with your friends, and the horses love it, all of it – there’s always a place to ride.”

In fact, Monday was an “off day” between the Orange Blossom Classic and A Sudden Impulse, so the whole barn went on a trail ride and they galloped around the outdoor arenas. “For half the barn, that’s the highlight of the horse show. It’s so fun to have real horse time.”

$40,000 NSBA Open Trail Challenge Top Three Results: 

1 Sugaray, Chad Evans, Kathy Huspeni
2 Two Ziplines, Melissa Jones, Katie Kopf
3 Willys Goodride, Jason Gilliam, Sarah Lebsock

$3,000 NSBA Open Trail Limited Rider Bonus Top Three: 

1 Xxtreme, Reid Thomas, Heidi Rasor
2 No Bad Daze, Jake Hartman, Tanya Hartman
3 Machine Dun Kelly, Curtis Reynolds, Taylor Bates

See a video of the trail course during the judges’ walk-through, courtesy of An Equine Production:

The $40,000 NSBA Clean-Slate Challenge Course at A Sudden Impulse (


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